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Topic : Coping with STDs

Number of Replies: 231
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Created on : Tuesday, August 08, 2006, 01:50:08 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
Do you or a loved one have, or suspect you may have an STD? Share support and advice with others dealing with a sexually transmitted disease.

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September 22, 2006, 5:40 pm CDT

Coping with HSV First Outbreak After 50

 You hear of many people who have had STD for many years, but when your first outbreak is after you turn 50, it was absolutely devastating.  I remember laying there crying while the doctor was swabbing a lesion and telling the nurse this isn't happening because this only happens when you're in your 20's and 30's....  I hate to sound like a broken record, but..... my now ex was having an affair with a 35 year old at the time and had moved out three months earlier.  I give everyone the benefit of the doubt in that possibly she was one of the 90% that aren't aware they have it and he didn't exhibit symptoms either....  But with the stress of major changes in my life, my immune system did not hold it in check.  I "buried my head in the sand" for 5 years and luckily had not had any further outbreaks that I was aware of so  I put it out of my mind.....  Until I was on my way home from my first "30 minute romance".... and it hit me.  The worst of it, was that I had been given very little information about HSV (Herpes) at the time I was diagnosed.  I had to go on line searching for what I could gather.  The devastating emotions were back all over again...  I felt like I was "damaged goods", no one would ever want any kind of a serious relationship with me...  All the old baggage from growing up (parents have a great influence in these areas) came back to haunt me.  I knew I was a good person, but I kept remembering my mother's words......  It is not something that I can discuss with many people in my own age group as the stigma is there.  We were taught that only a "certain kind" of person got "those STD's" and we shouldn't associated with these people because you were "judged by the company you keep."  Just a few of the things we still carry with us today.  As time has gone on, I've learned more and am more accepting of myself.  I have had "the chat" more than once.  So far I have been lucky.  I'm not sure how many people over 50 experience their first outbreak with an STD whether it be herpes, HPV or any other STD, but there are also many out there who are over 50, have an STD, but just don't talk about it.

More people know about STD's today but not enough.  The numbers are mind boggling, when you know that 1 out of 5 have HSV and of that 20%, 90% do not even know they have it.....talk about a spreading epidemic.  Even doctors aren't aware of how wide spread STD's are.  I know, I work in the field.  When someone comes in because they are concerned that they were exposed to an STD, they are tested for HIV and syphilis..... and sent on their way.  The HVP virus that causes cervical cancer at least has gotten some attention.  Hopefully, the new vaccine will help keep this form of HVP in check.

The Dr. Phil show reaches millions of people and would be doing a far reaching public service if one or two shows could be dedicated to coping with STD's.
 
September 22, 2006, 5:43 pm CDT

medication options

There are three antivirals that are used to manage herpes.

 

One is valtrex, that you hear a ton about.  It is very effective, yet VERY expensive.

 

Another is acyclovir.  It is as effective as valtrex, but you have to take more of it (twice a day vs once a day).  Valtrex is a prodrug of acyclovir and will turn into acyclovir into your liver.   The choice between the two is really cost vs convenience, as acyclovir is FAR cheaper than valtrex.

 

The third is famvir and is effective, and VERY expensive.

 

All 3 do require prescriptions and you need to talk to your doc about them.  Keep in mind that, as with any medication, they all work differently for different people, and while valtrex might work for one person, it might not be as effective for someone else.

 

Jess

 

 

 
September 23, 2006, 10:11 am CDT

Lack of Knowledge

I seriously believe that there needs to be more education and public knowledge on Herpes being an STD.  Technically Herpes is not included in STD's since it is a virus of the skin and it is not included in standard STD testing.  that is why so many people are walking around with it and don't even know about it.  I have only had HSV2 for 9 months now and have been dealing with life in the dating world since I am recently divorced and have now contracted this.  I was being careful and I was getting regular STD test just to be on the safe side.  All it took was just one night.  I went to dating guys that already had it (finding them on H dating sites),  But of course over time I also met men by going out and inevitably had to have "the talk" with them and tell them that I had herpes and that there wasn't a 100% effective way to keep me from passing it to him (especially since I am still in the first year of this and it is very active in my system even with suppressive therapy).  I lost some instantly and others over a short time.  Recently I have met a man that I had the talk with and he was OK with the fact that I had it.  He cares for me and wants to be with me and understands the risks.  We have had both protected and unprotected sex.  After about a month of having sex he and I both had outbreaks.  It took him a little bit of time to realize that he has been living with Herpes 12 years and never knew what it was since the outbreaks were never very bad and since they weren't that close to his actual penis he had never even considered it to be anything more than a little irritation that came around every now and then.   He had been getting tested 4 times a year for the past 4 years and since the results had been clean he thought he was.  It is scary to think that we rely on the standard Dr.'s tests to determine if we have STD's or not

 PEOPLE PLEASE WE NEED TO SPREAD THE WORD.  HERPES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS AN STD SINCE IT IS PRIMARILY SPREAD THROUGH SKIN CONTACT DURING SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS (from kissing to foreplay to actual intercourse).   Please spread the word that when you go to the Dr. for STD testing YOU NEED TO ASK for SPECIFIC TESTS.  Ask for the standard tests (gonorrhea and syphilis) and then ask to be tested for HSV1, HSV2, HPV, HIV and Hepatitis.  Ask to have copies of the results mailed to you so you will have confirmation of  what you have been tested for and what the results were.  GET TESTED AND GET TESTED OFTEN.

 
September 23, 2006, 11:02 am CDT

coping/dating with STD's

Is no bigger or smaller a challenge than kids, ethnicity, economics, recovery or geography.

 

The secret is to find people that have the same challenge, and make it an open dialogue.

 

I have had success dating within the STD community (HSV2, HPV) and have learned it is a community.

 

There are socials in many cities, support groups.

 

The Antopia group of websites is the oldest, largest, and most rigorously controlled (to protect people).

 

Good luck....and life isn't over.

 

 
September 23, 2006, 1:46 pm CDT

Coping with STDs

Quote From: luanne1961

[quote from ronzgirlj  This virus is epidemic, with 80 % of the population having it in this country, and most don't even know it. Please tell a friend and also keep up with annual pap smears. [/quote

 

I totally agree.  I believe that ALL STD's need to be talked about and discussed with our friends family and physicians.  And last but certainly not least any prospective sexual partners, as they are the ones who deserve to know.  There is NOTHING to be ashamed of when having an STD.  It takes a long time to "get used to the idea", but in time, you soon come to realize that the STD is simply a Virus.  Herpes is "JUST" a Virus to me:   http://herpes-virus.blogspot.com/       

 

On my Herpes blog (noted above),  you will also find a copy of a letter I had written to Dr. Phil which I feel this issue does need to be addressed.  As another herpes friend of mine has said, we need  "herpes heroes"  (did you realize that just by changing the P to an O in the word herpes, you get heroes). 

 

Someone else had inquired about dating sights, support groups etc.  If you simply do a web search for your city (ie: Herpes Support San Diego) or any city for that matter, chances are you will find either a support group, social group or both.  The majority of the best chat/message boards dealing with herpes are normally found on the yahoo groups.  There are all sorts of groups.  Most are "city specific" where they discuss upcoming gatherings, friendship, support and some have met their "Mr or Mrs Right".   There are yahoo groups which are geared towards certain age groups; (ie: Hover50 - over 50 and living with herpes -support and social), Herpes Support (Picking Up The Pieces, with over 3000 members) treating your herpes through holistic means and so many more.  Just do a search for the type of group you might be searching for.

 

I have personally found (as I talk about on my blog also called "Supportive Strangers") that just by going to a social gathering, you will soon realize how common of an issue living with genital herpes truly is.  You will experience a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders when you actually can say the word out loud "HERPES, HERPES, HERPES" and no longer feel ashamed.  You will soon realize that you are NOT ALONE and that seems to be the biggest problem with people who are literally struggling with herpes is the emotional aspect of it.  Sure, some people suffer much more than others, in regard to outbreaks etc, some of us, suffer very little, but it's the emotional aspect, the fact that the only way we can live with ourselves is to tell and take the chance/risk of being rejected by a prospective mate.  I have found that being honest has been the very best medicine for me while living with genital herpes.  I'm no longer ashamed as I once was, it's just a virus for Pete's sake!!  :-)

 

For those of you who are having difficulties having "the talk".  My recommendation is to "get right with yourself" first.  You don't want to tell someone with tears streaming down your face.  Join a support group and get inspiration from others who are going through the exact same thing.  Living with genital herpes is NOT the end of the world, you can still have children and you can still be loved.

I like your enthusiasm.  I understand that herpes is a virus -- but some how when you tell a partner about it -- it seems so dirty.  Maybe age has something to do with my attitude -- I'm 53 yrs old and to discuss this openly is something I can't do.  It is embarrassing. Telling a potential partner that they have probably already been exposed and did not know it -- they don't get it.  At least with me, they know that it can be prevented.  I don't know......as for joining a support group in my town -- I don't think so.  People talk way too much and this is a small town.
 
September 23, 2006, 4:40 pm CDT

how i found out

Quote From: lynn73

If you didn't have outbreaks what made you get tested? Curious

I was breaking out in hives so my PCP decided to test for herpes.   Who knew? I still have never read anything about that being a symptom.
 
September 23, 2006, 6:43 pm CDT

It is what you make it...

Quote From: chantel2

I like your enthusiasm.  I understand that herpes is a virus -- but some how when you tell a partner about it -- it seems so dirty.  Maybe age has something to do with my attitude -- I'm 53 yrs old and to discuss this openly is something I can't do.  It is embarrassing. Telling a potential partner that they have probably already been exposed and did not know it -- they don't get it.  At least with me, they know that it can be prevented.  I don't know......as for joining a support group in my town -- I don't think so.  People talk way too much and this is a small town.

as is anything in life.

 

You might also be surprised how many people you know have it.  The 1 in 4 number is universal, not just in bigger cities. 

 

I think you are buying into the stigma, and doing yourself a HUGE disservice.  Its only dirty if you let it be dirty.

 

And don't forget that if you go to a support group, everyone there will have herpes too.  They can't share your stuff without sharing their own, ya know? 

 

Jess

 
September 23, 2006, 7:19 pm CDT

I agree

Quote From: herpes437737

I seriously believe that there needs to be more education and public knowledge on Herpes being an STD.  Technically Herpes is not included in STD's since it is a virus of the skin and it is not included in standard STD testing.  that is why so many people are walking around with it and don't even know about it.  I have only had HSV2 for 9 months now and have been dealing with life in the dating world since I am recently divorced and have now contracted this.  I was being careful and I was getting regular STD test just to be on the safe side.  All it took was just one night.  I went to dating guys that already had it (finding them on H dating sites),  But of course over time I also met men by going out and inevitably had to have "the talk" with them and tell them that I had herpes and that there wasn't a 100% effective way to keep me from passing it to him (especially since I am still in the first year of this and it is very active in my system even with suppressive therapy).  I lost some instantly and others over a short time.  Recently I have met a man that I had the talk with and he was OK with the fact that I had it.  He cares for me and wants to be with me and understands the risks.  We have had both protected and unprotected sex.  After about a month of having sex he and I both had outbreaks.  It took him a little bit of time to realize that he has been living with Herpes 12 years and never knew what it was since the outbreaks were never very bad and since they weren't that close to his actual penis he had never even considered it to be anything more than a little irritation that came around every now and then.   He had been getting tested 4 times a year for the past 4 years and since the results had been clean he thought he was.  It is scary to think that we rely on the standard Dr.'s tests to determine if we have STD's or not

 PEOPLE PLEASE WE NEED TO SPREAD THE WORD.  HERPES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS AN STD SINCE IT IS PRIMARILY SPREAD THROUGH SKIN CONTACT DURING SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS (from kissing to foreplay to actual intercourse).   Please spread the word that when you go to the Dr. for STD testing YOU NEED TO ASK for SPECIFIC TESTS.  Ask for the standard tests (gonorrhea and syphilis) and then ask to be tested for HSV1, HSV2, HPV, HIV and Hepatitis.  Ask to have copies of the results mailed to you so you will have confirmation of  what you have been tested for and what the results were.  GET TESTED AND GET TESTED OFTEN.

I've had herpes half my life. When I first contracted it I was devastated but most people thought it was no big deal because the thinking back then was you couldn't pass it on if you weren't having an outbreak. Then Time Magazine did a cover story on The Scarlet H and suddenly all hell broke loose. And I'll tell you something else - I don't even know who I got it from because the guy I'd been dating at the time didn't have it. We're still friends after all these years and he still doesn't have it so go figure. I was married for 18 years but I'll say this - one of the first things I did when I started thinking about dating after divorce was to go for an STD screen and get the three part vaccine for Hepatitis B - now there's a condition that can kill you. Add to all this the fact that most people I know think a condom is like a magic shield that will protect you from anything when that's totally untrue. I've had two relationships since my divorce and when they, unfortunately, ended I made sure to wait the requisite time and got STD screens to make sure I didn't get anything from them! That way, I know if I happen to meet someone else I can honestly say that I have nothing other than what I already know I have.
 
September 23, 2006, 10:33 pm CDT

I'm from a small town too

Quote From: chantel2

I like your enthusiasm.  I understand that herpes is a virus -- but some how when you tell a partner about it -- it seems so dirty.  Maybe age has something to do with my attitude -- I'm 53 yrs old and to discuss this openly is something I can't do.  It is embarrassing. Telling a potential partner that they have probably already been exposed and did not know it -- they don't get it.  At least with me, they know that it can be prevented.  I don't know......as for joining a support group in my town -- I don't think so.  People talk way too much and this is a small town.
So I totally understand what you're saying and it truly is not an age thing as I'm not that far behind you in regard to the numbers.  What I have found out is that you need to be OK with having herpes yourself before anyone else will possibly understand, unless they have herpes too.  We can't "define" ourselves soley based on the fact that we have herpes.  All of us are so much more than herpes.  The way I see it, things could have been a whole lot worse and getting herpes was my "wake up call".   This is something I recommend to people all the time and it might sound a bit odd, but I think the most difficult thing that I needed to get past was actually saying the word herpes.  Do it, say the word out loud to yourself several times.  I'm not sure what it is about it, but hearing it for yourself, you become more comfortable with the term.  I cringe when I hear people say "I have H" or How long have you had H? or Do you take meds for your H?  Just SAY the word.  It's not gonna bite you or anyone else and if it does "bite them", meaning they reject you, then it wasn't meant to be anyway and that's OK too  :-)    
 
September 24, 2006, 6:27 am CDT

Wow

Quote From: cheetie62

Chantel,

I too have few outbreaks(which are not a big deal to me)  When I first contracted I too could not afford Acyclovir and Valtrex was not around.  Anyway, I was told by a medical professional to take the vitamin Lysine.  I think I took about 1000mg / day as a preventative.  It seemed  to work, but I really didnt want to mess with taking it.  I have had herpes for over 20 years and don't really know what the big deal is about it .  Little outbreaks come and go and obviously I would choose not to have it if I could, but have been married for 12 yrs and my husband has never contracted it and was married before that for 5 yrs. and he still says he's never gotten anything.  Neither of them was ever that concerned about it anyway as they could see that  it did not affect my life in any negative way.  I also had a child 13yrs ago and  he was delivered by the conventional method.  Back then, my doctor wasn't even concerned about the herpes thing only saying he might consider a c-section if I had lesions when it was time to deliver.

I just don't know what everyones big deal is with having it.  Maybe my outbreaks are completely different then everyone elses, but I seriously doubt it. 

One last note:  Anyone that would advise a person with herpes to tell their family or someone they are casually dating is an IDIOT.  Just  use condoms (even though I never did with my husbands)  

People are dying of incurable diseases as we speak so to everyone who is so upset about having herpes   JUST GET OVER IT AND FIND SOMETHING OR SOMEONE ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT!!!!!!!!

Wow, I can't believe you said that. 1. If you need condoms you are not casually dating. How is sleeping with someone casual? Shaking hands, kissing is casual. Getting naked and sharing your body with another person - not casual. 2. You can pass on herpes even when using a condom. If you are a responsible adult of course you are going to tell the person you're with. Justifying not telling them because other diseases kill is a poor argument. If the person who gave me herpes had been upfront I probably would have declined the relationship or at least would have been more careful. 3. I'm not crying about having herpes. I am 35 and single and it makes dating more difficult. Dating is hard under the best circumstances. This definitely throws a wrench in it. But with a little education maybe: The spread of herpes could be stopped or at least slowed. Maybe men won't run when I tell them I have it. I am a beautiful woman with a good job and a great life. I can't wait to find a partner to share my life with.
 
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